Aquaponics System Designs

Aquaponics System DesignsThere are numerous types of aquaponics system designs that are in existence right now. Once you understand the workings of aquaponics systems, you can design one yourself. Your imagination is the limit really. Ok now, a home aquaponics system design consists of the following basic components:

    • A grow bed (where the plants will be)
    • A fish tank (of course where the fish swim)
    • A means to transfer water from the fish tank to the growbed (normally a pump), and
    • A means to drain water from the growbed back to the fish tank (standpipes or siphons are normally used for this purpose)

The important thing here is to achieve a good balance between water, fish, bacteria and sunshine. Once you have that you will have a successful, self-sustaining aquaponics system design that you can rely on.

Let’s get to know some of the basic aquaponics systems….


Media-Filled Bed – Aquaponics System Designs

This can be said to be the simplest form of aquaponics, they are made out of containers or tanks filled with media. The most commonly used media consists of expanded clay pebbles or small river rocks or Lava rocks. Their main purpose is to provide the plant roots a medium to grip on as they grow bigger and taller.

Aquaponics System Designs

Water from a fish tank is pumped into the media filled beds via a water pump and plants grow in them. This system can be run in two different ways. A continuous flow, flooding and draining the grow bed, or a flood and drain system with a timer or a siphon.


Continuous Flood System

Continuous Flood System

In this aquaponics system design, the growbed will always be filled with water. Water is pumped continuously from the fish tank to the growbed. The water will then be gravity drained back to the fish tank again, completing the cycle.


Flood & Drain System With A Siphon

Flood and Drain System

In this aquaponics design however, water is continuously drained from the growbed by means of a siphon. This is a more popular aquaponics system design among “aquaponians” as it generally produces better result. 

Nutrient Film Technique (NFT) – Aquaponics System Designs

Nutrient Film Technique is more commonly used in hydroponics environment. But as you explore further into aquaponics, you will find that it borrows quite a bit of designs and kits from hydroponics. After all, you need only to replace the hydroponics solutions with Nitrate rich fish tank water to grow the plants. In NFT systems, nutrient rich water is pumped down the small enclosed gutters.

Aquaponics Systems Design

Plants sit in small plastic cups with their roots submerged in the water to access and absorb the nutrients. The downside of NFT is that it’s only suitable for certain types of plants, generally leafy green vegetables. Larger plants with big roots are not suitable for lightweight growing gutters as they will topple and fall.


Deep Water Culture (DWC) – Aquaponics Systems Designs

Deep Water Culture, works on the idea of floating plants on top of the water allowing the roots to hang freely in the water. This method is one of the more commonly practiced in a commercial environment. Here only a single or two plant types are usually massed produced.

Normally, a DWC system design consists of a floating foam raft on top of the fish tank. However, a more common method is to grow fish in a fish tank and pump water through a filtration system. The water will then be diverted into long channels of floating rafts. These rafts are filled with aquaponic plants that float on the water surface. Their roots however are submerged underwater to extract nutrients.


To find out more about aquaponics system designs, check out our Aquaponics System Solutions – Home DIY Aquaponics. You will find a wealth of information on how to build and grow three different types of aquaponics systems. You will also have access to our breakthrough siphon design and build it for yourself with ease.

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DIY Aquaponics Systems



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  • This is a great article on the 2 types of Aquaponics systems used by most home Aquaponics users.
    I’m more of a flood and drain guy myself but also like to set up a siphon system every now and then. My preferred siphon is the Affnan siphon.

    Brett C

    • I like Afnan’s siphon too and I know it’s quite popular in Australia…but find it a little too complicated for most people to make one. So, I’ve redesigned it, simplified it with less components, easy to build and reliable. You can check it out on my mainsite if you like at;


  • Dear Mr. Fu
    I want to buy a sollar cell for generating my water pump. For that, I need to know how much power the water pump needs, so that I able to know which solar cell should I buy. Please recomend me, which water pump is good for the aquaponic.


    • Hi Derik,

      You would need to find out what is the capacity of the pump you’re using firstly, to determine the solar cell you would need, and the size of your aquaponics system determines the size of your pump.

      Hope that helps to put things into perspective for you.

      But I would stick with normal electricity powered pump if I were you. They are more reliable. That is my opinion, the choice is yours of course.

      And yes, I can recommend some good pumps to you. Take a look at the link below:

      Or…alternatively you can look for aquarium pumps in your local aquarium shop.

      Steven Fu

  • Dear Mr Fu

    Is it possible to grow crayfish in the aquaponic system? Or is it only fish can be grown in this system? Please I need your advice


    • Hi Derik,

      Crayfish will do great with aquaponics…of course you need to do some research on it’s living behaviour, water pH and etc to get the best result.


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